Penn Yan School budget is in voters’ hands

Gwen Chamberlain

The Penn Yan School Board unanimously agreed to send the $31.3 million budget that represents a $340,000 reduction in spending from this year’s budget, to voters for consideration during the annual vote on May 17.

The budget that was adopted March 30 is the same as the budget reviewed in depth on March 9.

Although there may be changes to the amount of state aid that makes its way to Penn Yan, Doug Tomandl, assistant superintendent for business, did not recommend adjusting the anticipated revenue.

The tax levy for the $31.3 million plan totals $16.1 million, and the true value tax rate is $10.26. Tax rates may vary from town to town, based on equalization rates.

In his presentation, Tomandl noted that although the school district’s debt service increased by $2.3 million since the 2009-2010 school year, overall spending is only $196,028 more in 2011-12 than in 2009-2010. Keeping that number down required cuts in staffing, programs and classes along with other overall cuts in spending.

Interim Superintendent Tom Cox said the budget process has been the most difficult for schools in New York State, and Penn Yan administrators began the process early, knowing the challenge ahead.

“As a result of the early work, we were well prepared to address the budget when we learned that our state aid revenue would be less than previoulsy anticipated. Close communication with our bargaining units helped to make difficult decisions as transparent and timely as possible. Decisions were made that were reflective of the Board of Education’s goals,” he said.

During the budget process, two community forums drew district residents who offered suggestions, concerns and opinions.

“Many of the suggestions that we received were about future process and those have been shared with the board and will be considered in the future. I want to express my appreciation to those community members who attended and shared their thoughts. I belive that it has opened some very important lines of communication and understanding that will serve the district well in the future,” Cox added.

If the budget is turned down by voters, the district could be required to operated under a contingent budget that would eliminate the purchase of equipment and non-essential student supplies, and prohibit the community use of school facilities, but would still cost taxpayers $31.04 million, just $260,924 less than the proposed budget.

A public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 p.m. May 4 in the elementary school cafeteria.

The annual vote will be held from noon to 8 p.m. May 17 in the Middle School.

In other business, the board:

• CONSOLIDATION: Authorized administrators to proceed with a request for proposals with the Dundee and Marcus Whitman School Districts regarding the feasibility study of consolidation of services.

• MIDDLE?SCHOOL: Authorized the administrators to establish a committee to study the impact of the reconfiguration of the housing structure of the current middle school grades.

• CENSUS:?Authorized administrators to proceed with a pre-school census.